11th > April > 2007 Archive

Dell turns green waiting for Barcelona

Dell is dipping its toes into the AMD quad-core processor market for servers - antsy to take the plunge when AMD releases "Barcelona" in mid-2007. The computer seller has released the PowerEdge 2970, a box that runs on dual-core Opterons today but which can also hold four-core parts down the road. All Dell needs is the damn chip.
Austin Modine, 11 Apr 2007
Identity

Georgia on the mind of three million after CD loss

Sensitive personal information on 2.9 million Georgia residents is at risk after a company lost a CD that contained the details. It is at least the third such blunder in less than a week and raises serious doubts about the measures private companies and public officials take to safeguard individuals from identity theft.
Dan Goodin, 11 Apr 2007
Sony PlayStation 3
9

UK PS3 price begins to drop

Retailers WH Smith and Play.com have both knocked £25 off the price of the PS3, offering the console for just under £400.
Scott Snowden, 11 Apr 2007
12

The 800lb Googilla in the boardroom

ColumnColumn Google, like the legendary 800lb gorilla which got elected to the board, has reached the sort of size and influence where it can sit where it likes in the boardroom.
Guy Kewney, 11 Apr 2007

FOI restrictions unnecessary, Info Commissioner says

The government would not need to limit the scope of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act if public authorities used existing rules properly, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said (pdf). The ICO is opposing the government's changes. The gvernment wants to limit the scope and number of FOI enquiries by changing the cost structure currently in place. In response to a consultation process the ICO said the government's stated aims could be achieved under existing rules and that the proposed changes would make the operation of the Act more difficult. The response was lodged in February but has only just been published. Since that time the government has issued a further consultation in a move widely seen as backtracking on some of its more controversial proposals. The cost of FOI requests is monitored and any that exceed a limit of £600 for Whitehall and £450 for other public bodies can be denied. Public servants' time is charged at £25 per hour, but only for certain activities related to the request. The government has proposed counting more activities towards the charging threshold and lowering the threshold itself, which would lead to the refusal of many requests. The moves have been opposed by campaigners and media groups who do not want to see a greater number of requests refused. The government says its plans are designed to cut down on the excessive costs built up by a small number of requesters, thought to include a high proportion of journalists. They do not include, though, a proposal to allow media organisations to pay for costs above the threshold. Such requests can be refused outright. The ICO said in its submission that problem requesters can be blocked without any change in the rules. "A more robust application of section 14 – exclusion of vexatious requests – would, to a very significant extent, address the mischief at which the new cost proposals purport to be directed," it said. Another controversial measure proposed by the government is a plan to draw together all the requests from one organisation every three months so an entire organisation such as the BBC would have to operate under a single £450 or £600 threshold. The ICO opposed this suggestion both on the practical grounds that it would be difficult to implement and on the principled grounds that it did not take account of the FOI Act's primary purpose, which was the release of information. "The ICO has grave doubts about the extent to which the aggregation of nonsimilar requests would be workable in practice, particularly if determined applicants took steps to circumvent the new provisions," it said. "The aggregation proposals are not tempered by any duty to consider the public interest in disclosing the information requested." The ICO also said it would likely be inundated with appeals and actions against public authorities should the rules change and even more ambiguous calculations, such as reading time or consideration time, be made factors in the refusal of a request. "The process of estimating the time which might be spent on the various activities which can be included when calculating whether the cost limit has been reached is thus uncertain, subjective and open to exaggeration, if not abuse," said the ICO's submission. "This makes it all the more likely that there will be further challenge when the regulations are invoked to resist a request." The government recently launched a supplementary consultation on how it could better balance openness and cost effectiveness. That consultation, seen by some as showing a willingness to back down on the action on the FOI Act, will close in June. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 Apr 2007
7

Palm developing own OS - again

Palm is to build its own handheld operating system, combining a Linux foundation with the regular Palm OS look and feel. Work is clearly progressing: devices equipped with the new OS are due later this year, the company's CEO, Ed Colligan, said this week.
Tony Smith, 11 Apr 2007

Imperial College to research IT and patient safety

The Department of Health (DoH) has provided funds to investigate IT's ability to improve efficiency and service quality. It has announced a £4.5m research programme that will take in IT's potential for improving the reliability and safety of healthcare, both through new technology and through monitoring information. The Centre for NHS Patient Safety and Service Quality, announced it will be based at Imperial College's biosurgery and surgical technology section, at St Mary's Hospital in London, with funding from the Department of Health's National Institute for Health Research. Among five areas of initial study, the centre will research "the potential of new technologies to improve the reliability and efficiency of healthcare, such as using pharmacy robots and computerised systems for ordering medication", according to a statement. It will also look at the use of information to help clinicians and managers monitor and improve safety and quality. The centre will involve academic and clinical research staff from both St Mary's and Hammersmith Hospitals NHS trusts, as well as from Imperial College, part of London University. The former trust has a history of working with Imperial, with its medical school having merged with the college in 1988. The three organisations are working to form the Academic Health Sciences Centre, an integrated hospital, medical education and research institution, which may eventually become an NHS foundation trust. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Kablenet, 11 Apr 2007
13

Listen up banks: women are worth IT

Britain's banking sector has been told to jizz up its customer databases to more effectively target the female market. Based on their latest research, financial consultants at Accenture are urging British banks to reorganise their "archaic IT" as well as the information they keep on customers so as to improve the way they market new products to them - particularly women who are statistically more open to switching banks when offered a competitive alternative. "Rather than simply slapping on 'pink branding', the key is delivering carefully-crafted products supported by clear, targeted and timely advice utilising both the internet and well-informed advisers, which is something very much within the ability of banks to deliver," report author Natasha Miller said. More than half (55 per cent) of the 1,000 women surveyed by Accenture said they were likely to switch providers "if a bank was proposing tailored financial products for a woman's different life stages (e.g. get married, have children, get divorced, become retired, become widowed)". However, Miller, a senior executive in Accenture's Banking Industry Practice who penned the "Because They're Worth It" polemic, said British banks were unable to effectively seize this market opportunity because their IT systems were not geared up to record customer data and lifestyle changes. "Lifestyles have changed dramatically in the past 20 years leading to greater financial independence for women, but the financial services industry has not kept pace," she said. "Often banks do not hold the relevant information. But even when they do they are often unable to access their data in a way that allows them to create appropriate products and services." Miller said IT is the fundamental problem, because the typical bank's IT system is based on a 1960s-era mainframe. "While these have had all sorts of extra systems added to them over the years, there is only so much you get from 40-year-old technology," she said. "This is a major stumbling block. "This inability to store and process customer data in useful ways is at the heart of the problem faced by many banks and building societies. They do not have the data in enough detail to identify profitable niches and market to them effectively," Miller said. In other advice relevant to the Irish banking sector, Miller pointed out that British banks need to target other distinct social groups, particularly workers from Eastern Europe. One Irish bank that is upping its game in terms of IT is AIB. The high street bank has engaged financial IT firm i-flex to help deliver "one of the most important transformational projects in AIB's history" by implementing a common IT operating model for retail banking operations throughout the AIB's domestic and British retail operations. AIB already uses i-flex's FLEXCUBE Universal Banking Solution for its wholesale banking operations, and the retail transformation project is expected to be completed within the next three and a half years. AIB said the strategic partnership with i-flex meant it would be in a position to streamline and more efficiently handle customer data. Copyright © 2007, ENN
Maxim Kelly, 11 Apr 2007

Orange talks up Vox

Orange has begun punting its first Windows Mobile 6 device to its business buyers. Apparently based on HTC's 'Vox' smart phone: it is a candybar handset that incorporates a slide-out, mini QWERTY keyboard.
Tony Smith, 11 Apr 2007
Windows Vista teaser
3

Five critical reasons to update Windows today

Microsoft has released six bulletins, five covering critical vulnerabilities, as part of its latest Patch Tuesday update. The critical list includes flaws in Universal Plug and Play, Windows CSRSS, Microsoft Agent and Microsoft Content Management Server that create a means for hackers to inject code into vulnerable systems.
John Leyden, 11 Apr 2007
Recycle sign
2

Small tech firms say green regs WEEEly unfair

Small IT retailers are footing an unfairly large chunk of the bill for the UK government's much-delayed regulations for disposing of junked electronic kit, a trade group has claimed.
Kelly Fiveash, 11 Apr 2007
9

US deploys cloaked airliner

Regular readers will recall our pride last year when we were able to reveal that the UK had developed a stealth Eurostar train, spotted on Google Earth decloaking as it pulled into London Waterloo station.
Lester Haines, 11 Apr 2007
6

Data disposal: Every action leaves a trace

CommentComment I recently had the honour of being among a team of storage managers from large companies around the UK. Discussions centred mainly around virtualisation and maximising utilisation rates, bringing together disparate vendors' kit as a single resource pool and how to manage data growth as voice and video are brought in to the mix. However, the area of data disposal led to some serious debate.
Clive Longbottom, 11 Apr 2007
Nokia 6125
3

Gov claims mobile phone theft waning as penalty rises

Mobile phone theft has almost been eliminated, according to the Home Office. It announced last week that 80 per cent of handsets are now blocked within 48 hours of the theft being notified, and new jail terms have been introduced for those found attempting to reprogramme stolen handsets.
Bill Ray, 11 Apr 2007
1

Are BI vendors creating unrealistic expectations?

Reg reader workshopReg reader workshop Earlier this week on the current Reg Workshop discussion it was posited that all too often marketing people appear to be in control of the vocabulary used in relation to Business Intelligence (BI). We went on to say that much of the language seems to be targeted at motivating senior managers and "business decision makers" on the vision and benefits, neglecting the fact that practitioners need more clarity in order for the tools to deliver anything approaching full business value.
Tony Lock, 11 Apr 2007
1

Viacom models Panama hat for Yahoo!

Viacom has handed Yahoo! the right to sell advertising on its popular Comedy Central, MTV, and other web properties. Yahoo!'s nascent Panama platform will provide contextual advertising on 33 Viacom flagship "broadband sites", with the possibility of expanding to cover a further 140 sites worldwide. Added together, Viacom reckons its properties rank at 11 in the most popular places to visit online. Details of the financial carve-up between the two giants were not given, but the deal comes as little surprise given the bad blood over copyright infringement between Viacom and Google. Yahoo! is the only other contextual ads operation with the muscle to serve the likes of MTV, which claimed more than 25 million visitors in March. Since Viacom began piling pressure on YouTube to swiftly remove copyright content uploaded by users, it has ramped up development of its own video sites, with their own embeddable player. Trumpeting today's deal, Yahoo! CEO and entertainment industry veteran Terry Semel indulged in some ill-disguised needle aimed at Google over Viacom's $1bn lawsuit against YouTube: "Viacom is a global leader in entertainment that shares Yahoo!'s commitment to connecting users to the content, products and services for which they are looking while respecting copyrights and other intellectual property rights at the same time." Despite winning the contract almost by default, the news is a coup for Yahoo! after it lost out to Google in the battle to serve ads to MySpace, and then failed to capture huge traffic vortex Facebook in acquisition talks. Viacom's press release is here. ®
Christopher Williams, 11 Apr 2007
channel

Oracle promises 37 spring security patches

Oracle plans to release 37 security patches next week as part of its quarterly update cycle.
John Leyden, 11 Apr 2007
fingers pointing at man
12

Darfur genocide mapped from space

Google and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum today launched the "Crisis in Darfur" Google Earth initiative which offers users a handy guide to the systematic destruction of the Darfur region of Sudan as a result of an ongoing conflict between local rebel groups and pro-government militias.
Lester Haines, 11 Apr 2007

Samsung spins SpinPoint 2.5in drives

Hot on the heels of Samsung's 3.5in SpinPoint hard disk drive launch last week comes a pair of new 2.5in models, one pitched at servers, the other at notebooks and consumer electronics kit like DVRs.
Tony Smith, 11 Apr 2007

Korean cloners in new faking investigation

Access to research which reported the cloning of two endangered Korean wolves has been suspended by publishers pending an investigation into the veracity of the claims. The wolves were paraded in front of the world's media by Seoul National University just over two weeks ago, but their origins quickly became the subject of suspicion. Blood samples were sent away on Tuesday for independent DNA testing. The team behind the research was led by Lee Byeong-chun, a former collaborator of disgraced cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk. Hwang is on trial for his part in falsifying evidence that he had cloned human embryos, and has told the court: "I admit to the suspicion of fabrication." His groundbreaking research had been a matter of great national pride for Korea. Seoul National University said on Monday it would carefully investigate Lee's wolf research. Local media reports that the results will be known within two weeks. A spokesman said: "I assure you the investigation will be thorough as the school's honour is at stake." Lee's US publisher Cloning and Stem Cells, has pulled the paper from its website. Instead, a statement reads: "The authors of this paper...have requested corrections to the text. Cloning and Stem Cells will await the outcome of [Seoul National University's] investigation before deciding upon any action." The lab under suspicion had its 2005 claim that it cloned a domestic dog independently verified last year. ®
Christopher Williams, 11 Apr 2007
1

LG takes Shine to 3G

LG has polished up its Shine handset portfolio with a new 3G model. The manufacturer didn't say much about its new baby, but it implied the UMTS version follows the same shiny slider format as the standard tri-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE model.
Tony Smith, 11 Apr 2007
24

Orange punts two year lock-in

Customers who are prepared to wait 2 years for their next subsidised handset, or give up the subsidy entirely with a SIM-only deal and no commitment, are being offered bonus minutes and text from Orange UK.. The benefits, compared to the 18 month contracts already available, depend on what kind of animal you are: Canaries get an additional 450 minutes of voice, while Dolphins and Racoons have to make do with 300 minutes. Canaries also get 150 more text messages, with Racoons getting 50 and Dolphins remaining unlimited. This is quite clearly a bribe to reduce the burden of replacing handsets every 12 months. Orange Pay Monthly acquisition marketing head Rob Kerrison said: "Our new 24 month contracts are perfect for those looking to get significantly better value in return for a lengthened commitment and hanging on to their handset for two years." Orange tried the tactic a few years ago, but said the market wasn't right for it at the time. The problem is that subsidised handsets have created an unrealistic market for new phones, and the upgrade customers expect every year is costing the operators more each time. So it makes sense for Orange to reward customers who don't want an upgrade every time a shiny new toy comes out, but it remains to be seen if the market is now ready for a two year commitment. ®
Bill Ray, 11 Apr 2007
17

Military thinktank sees dark future

A UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) thinktank led by a controversial senior officer has issued some radical predictions for the future.
Lewis Page, 11 Apr 2007
1

Watchdog downsamples Creative Xmod 'better than CD' claim

Music player maker Creative has been told not to claim its Xmod sound-enhancement system can take an MP3 track and make it sound better than a CD - at least until it can prove that's the case.
Tony Smith, 11 Apr 2007
11

Bondage pics found in astronaut's car

The former NASA astronaut accused of driving across the US wearing nappies in an attempt to kidnap a love rival had a computer disk containing bondage images in her car when she was picked up by police, according to court documents.
Scott Snowden, 11 Apr 2007
1

Evesham motors in with car-friendly second-set LCD TV

A widescreen LCD TV for a mere £120? Yes, there's a catch: Evesham's TV-930 is has a screen size of just 9.2in - handy, the company claims, as a bedroom telly and - thanks to a 12v power adaptor - in-car usage too.
Tony Smith, 11 Apr 2007
15

US businessman makes $9m selling lunar real estate

An apparently unnoticed loophole in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty has allowed a businessman from Nevada to spawn a multi-million-dollar property business selling plots of lunar real estate at $20 (£10) an acre. Dennis Hope has been claiming ownership of the Earth's Moon - and seven planets and their moons - for over 20 years. So far, he says he has sold more than 1.6m sq km (400 million acres) netting him $9m (£4.5m). A further eight billion acres are still up for grabs. Unsurprisingly, no government has yet recognised the lunar sales as legally binding, dispelling speculation that maybe the moon was in fact made of money, and not cheese as previously thought. Proposed plans to mine huge reserves of helium 3, which are in abundance on the moon and could potentially solve our planet's energy crisis, have heavily contributed to this renewed interest in our nearest celestial neighbour. The next leg of the space race - to exploit the Moon - was further fueled by President George Bush in January 2004 when he announced the US would return to the Moon by 2017. He said he aimed to establish a long term lunar base by 2020. Curiously enough, this announcement came the day after China announced it was sending astronauts to the moon. ®
Scott Snowden, 11 Apr 2007
4

DNA database 'will span most of the UK population'

The Government's DNA retention policy combined with increasingly sophisticated statistical techniques means that eventually most citizens in the UK will be linked to data stored on the police's DNA database, according to a privacy law expert. The outcome of an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that challenges the UK's DNA retention policy will not limit the ultimate reach of the DNA database, only the speed of its compilation, says Dr Chris Pounder of Pinsent Masons. Under last year's Police and Justice Act, the police are allowed to retain DNA data on those arrested even if those arrested are not convicted of or even charged with any crime. Data derived from these samples are then added to the National DNA Database. Michael Marper's case before the ECHR could change this law. Marper was accused of harassment by his partner. He was arrested and DNA samples were taken. The charges were dropped when he reconciled with his partner, but police refused to destroy his DNA samples and related data. Marper exhausted his appeals through the English courts and then complained to the ECHR that the retention of his DNA is a breach of his rights to privacy under the European Convention on Human Rights. Earlier this year the ECHR decided that there was enough of importance in the case that it will hear it. "The court finds that serious questions of fact and law arise, the determination of which should depend on an examination of the merits," said the ECHR in January. "The application cannot be regarded as manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of the convention. No other grounds for declaring it inadmissible have been established." The ECHR has previously ruled in favour of the police's right to retain DNA, but that case involved a man who had been convicted of a crime. A Dutch bank robber, Mr Van der Velden, argued that police had failed to respect his private life by storing his DNA profile. The ECHR said that this interference with his privacy was proportionate. The Marper case tests the legality of storing the DNA of people who have not been convicted of a crime. But its outcome is largely redundant because of the emergence of statistical techniques which match DNA on the database to relatives, according to Dr Pounder, a privacy law specialist at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM. These techniques use the genetic fact that an individual's DNA sample is related to the DNA of close family members. "A national DNA database of the future is likely to span 80 per cent to 100 per cent of the population. The only question is when this will occur," said Pounder. Home Office statistics state that 33 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women under the age of 35 have a criminal record not related to motoring offences. However, DNA data of those convicted of a crime are never deleted, even when the individual who has provided the sample has died. "This means that the maximum DNA database coverage of the UK population would inevitably reach 20-25 per cent if current criminal trends remain constant," said Pounder. "Hence the value to the police of statistical methods which aim to identify suspects whose DNA details are not on the database from those whose details are stored on the database." Pounder anticipates that statistical techniques will develop and become more sophisticated. "In future, a DNA profile of someone arrested could be statistically linked to more and more relatives like parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, many of whom will not have been arrested," he said. "In that way, the DNA database, even though it contains data relating to criminals, will span most of the UK population," Pounder said. "If you are ever related to someone with a criminal record, your DNA will have the potential to be linked to that individual's police records." Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 11 Apr 2007
10

Neighbours from hell will be sent to boot camp

Outcast British families are to be thrown into "sin bins" till they learn how to behave in the community, according to the government. Fifty-three Family Intervention Projects around the country will provide intensive social care for around 1,500 families a year. Some of them will be removed from their communities and housed in intensive units for round-the-clock-supervision under the government's Respect agenda. The Communities and Local Government department did not say whether it had plans to tackle the other side of the problem for marginalised families - the communities that marginalise them. A report on six pilots of the scheme last year found that successful interventions were ones that, in effect, provided troubled families with a surrogate community: where care workers listened, did not judge the families or deal them authoritative ultimatums, but did challenge them honestly about their social discordance, or "anti-social" behaviour, as it's called by Westminster. In short, successful interventions earned respect, instead of demanding it. The surrogate communities could work without the families being moved from their homes into dedicated accommodation. In today's announcement, the government justified moving families from their homes by the cost to the taxpayer. A troubled family could cost £350,000 a year in court, housing, social services, and other costs. The cost of intensive support was £8,000, or £15,000 to stick a family in separate housing. Louise Casey, the government's coordinator for Respect, said in a statement: "Families that in the past may have been written off by agencies as 'lost causes'...now will be offered the right help and incentive to become decent members of their community and give their children the opportunity to grow up with a chance in life." Last year's pilot report stated how NCH, the children's charity, had led the introduction of a "narrative way of working", which might help people who had been "marginalised and stigmatised by the processes of the current discourses on ASB". In related news, Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham West and Royton, in setting out his manifesto for the leadership of the Labour party, said he would be "championing key groups now being marginalised". With prisons brimming full, the hardline approach isn't working, he said. Blair, meanwhile, was promising to get tough on gangs. ®
Mark Ballard, 11 Apr 2007
4

Girls Gone Wild boss jailed for contempt

The founder of jubtastic video operation Girls Gone Wild has been jailed for contempt of court, Associated Press reports. Joe Francis, 34, who coins "an estimated $29m a year from videos of young women exposing their breasts and in other sexually provocative situations" was cuffed and thrown in chokey on a federal arrest warrant after landing in a private jet at Florida's Panama City Bay County International Airport. The cause of his incarceration was a contempt citation he attracted "during negotiations in a civil lawsuit brought by seven women who were underage when they were filmed by his company on Panama City Beach during spring break in 2003". Lawyers for the litigants reported that Francis "became enraged during the settlement talks, shouting obscenities at the lawyers and threatening to 'bury them'". US District Judge Richard Smoak subsequently ordered Francis to settle the case or face jail. Negotiations apparently broke down last Thursday, at which time Smoak issued the contempt of court warrant. Francis ill-advisedly refused to give himself up, and called Smoak "a judge gone wild". Following his arrest, Francis was hauled before federal Magistrate Larry A Bodiford on Tuesday, who "ordered him held without bail". The eleventh US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta then refused to allow his release pending an appeal. A spokesman for Francis said that while "his attorneys continue to work toward a settlement", he would most likely languish in jail until Thursday when he's scheduled to face the wrath of Judge Smoak. His lawyer Jan Handzlik protested: "If someone behaves badly in a civil case, you punish them with a monetary sanction. It is alien to the justice system to say to a person who is not willing to settle a civil case that they should go to jail. You take the case to trial." ®
Lester Haines, 11 Apr 2007
Warning: train

SurfControl reforms on track

SurfControl updated the stock market today on progress in the third quarter, ended 31 March 2007. The company's move to services delivered via the internet rather than straight software licensing continues to pay dividends.
John Oates, 11 Apr 2007

Paymaster migration an object lesson

The trouble with some legacy applications is that businesses dare not get rid of them. That is fine as long as the platforms on which they run continue to be at least supported - and ideally updated - by the manufacturers.
Martin Banks, 11 Apr 2007
Computer 2000

C2000 takes on audiovisual biz

UK-based technology distributor Computer 2000 has stepped into the audiovisual business and announced today that Darren Sainsbury will head up the new strategy. C2000, which is owned by Tech Data, said it hopes to quickly establish itself as "the distributor of choice in the sector" over the coming year.
Kelly Fiveash, 11 Apr 2007
1

Readers win with Reg Hardware

Register Hardware recently offered its readers the chance to win a Sony PlayStation 3 games console. Well, we've collated the entries, erased the incorrect answer, and we now have a very lucky winner to announce...
Register Hardware, 11 Apr 2007
Handcuffs
6

My RFID-embedded car numberplate has a virus

Spyware - malicious programs that covertly track surfing habits or steal confidential data - are likely to migrate onto new platforms, including mobile phones and RFID chips.
John Leyden, 11 Apr 2007
2

Wikipedia: battleground of the new millennium

Wikipedia, the famed hive mind reference database written by anyone who feels like having a go, has suffered a few military-related hiccups in recent days. Firstly, the page on the US Army went through an editing conflict. It normally starts off conventionally enough, with something along the lines of "the United States Army is one of the armed forces of the United States and has primary responsibility for land-based military operations". But this came to the attention of one of Wikipedia's community researchers, who altered it. It seems fairly likely that the Wikipedian in question was a serving or former US Marine, possibly one who had only recently grasped the use of a keyboard (perhaps untypical in this respect: jarheads have exhibited substantial technical sophistication in the past.) A mere 13 minutes later, someone added a citation request (screenshot here). Other wikipedians over the next few minutes disagreed over where the citation request should go, but evinced no doubt that some compelling evidence would be found supporting the thesis that the US Army has primary responsibility for sucking butt (El Reg's informant was among this group). Then another seeker after pure web knowledge, possibly also a jarhead, corrected the first researcher's spelling somewhat. Finally, after nearly an hour, a spoilsport stepped in among the squabbling graffiti artists and changed the page back to something more conventional. Wikipedia may be a real encyclopaedia, albeit one often covered in schoolboy scribbles, but its instant edit feature seems bound to bring it down in chaos eventually. There is evidently a large online community of people willing to spend immense amounts of time as self-appointed guardians of wiki rectitude, but they could soon be overwhelmed by the those willing to spend even more immense amounts of time using the project as a scatological bulletin board. Whoever wins, it doesn't seem like the most time-efficient way of having an encyclopaedia. El Reg has recently received another military-related complaint regarding the hive mind database. In this case the beef comes from George Kenney, a self-described "anti war" podcaster, who says he's had all links to his site from Wikipedia deleted as spam by this admin – apparently a USAF master sergeant, though of course one must be wary about Wikipedians' claimed qualifications. George feels that the Wikipedian sarge has "a right-wing zealot's political axe to grind", largely on the basis of him being in the US military. That seems a little sweeping (at least one radical-leftist ex US special forces master-sergeant springs to mind, and indeed Mr Kenney links to a site where he writes). Nonetheless, it could be George is right and he's the victim of right wing zealotry within Wikipedia. Or it could be that George Kenney is just another wild-eyed internet zealot himself. His site, otherwise a fairly ordinary green/left-leaning politics one, links directly to 9/11 conspiracy theorists. George describes his links column as "groups, services, and products I like". El Reg's considered, impartial advice is not to trust anything you read on the internet. ®
Lewis Page, 11 Apr 2007
3

Mobile content works better on a Nokia

A mobile magazine application has demonstrated that Nokia users consistently give mobile content a higher rating than those using other handsets, even when the content is the same. The application is called EyeMags, and allows anyone to create magazine-style content which is then packaged into a Java application for others to download and view. Users are asked to rate the content on a simple scale; and the quality of what's available is pretty patchy, but as the content is available for a wide range of handsets it's also possible to compare how users rate the same content on different platforms. So that's what the head of development at EyeMags has done, and initial results from 10,000 responses is that Nokia users are generally happiest with their content, followed by Sony Ericsson users, with Motorola not far behind. Samsung users don't seem to rate the mobile-content experience much, though they are only just below LG users. Quite why Nokia users are the happiest is a mystery: perhaps the kind of people who buy Nokia phones are the type who enjoy mobile content, or the interface and interaction experience is so much better on a Nokia. Given the predominance of scantily-clad-female-based content on the service, it's also possible that the results are skewed by Nokia user's greater appreciation of the female form. Further analysis is promised in the coming weeks, including breakdowns by handset model and region, which should narrow down the mystery somewhat.®
Bill Ray, 11 Apr 2007
2

Sun sprinkles FISH food for storage guppies

Sun Microsystems appears to have open sauced many of the software components that make up its elusive FISHworks NetApp killer. The company, on a regular basis, frees up code found in its Solaris operating system to the so-called OpenSolaris community. The latest code dump features a host of storage-centric software. Sun imagines that any old hack can take the applications and create a fancy NAS (network attached storage) box.
Ashlee Vance, 11 Apr 2007

HP to SMB storage market: 'Yoo-hoo! tee-hee!'

Hewlett-Packard has a major crush on the small and medium-sized business market and has announced a new model in its All-in-One Storage line and shuffled some executives to help prove it. HP's latest move in the affair is the addition of the HP StorageWorks 1200. The 2U system is the densest chassis offered in the StorageWorks line with 12 drive bays holding up to 9TBs of SATA drives or 3.6TBs of SAS drives. The box starts at $8,759 for 3TB and runs on Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 R2.
Austin Modine, 11 Apr 2007
thumbs up teaser 75
6

Microsoft researcher obsessed with white trash data centers

A Microsoft researcher has provided his seal of approval to the white trash data centers promoted by Sun Microsystems and Rackable Systems. Windows Live architect and former DB2 lead architect James Hamilton has pumped out a presentation, detailing reasons why data centers in shipping containers make sense.
Ashlee Vance, 11 Apr 2007
clock teaser
14

Microsoft 'wait-and-see' on Vista BIOS hack

Microsoft has no immediate plans to tackle a reported hack to Windows Vista product activation that could allow illegal copies of Windows to be widely installed. The hack is not yet viewed as a wide-scale threat, although Microsoft indicated it may act if more hackers view breaking Windows Vista's OEM product activation as a challenge worth taking.
Gavin Clarke, 11 Apr 2007
Warning: train

All aboard the Green Grid

The bandwagon that is energy efficiency has gained 28 more riders, with Brocade, Novell and Copan among those signing up to the Green Grid, a non-profit consortium set up to address the problems of energy consumption in the data centre.
Bryan Betts, 11 Apr 2007
Microsoft
12

Microsoft zero-days said to target Office and Windows

Hot on the heels of yesterday's batch of updates from Microsoft patching five critical Windows vulnerabilities come reports of new zero-day exploits, some that appear to allow the commandeering of a PC. They underscore a growing pattern in which miscreants release their payloads shortly before or after Patch Tuesday.
Dan Goodin, 11 Apr 2007
14

Plants may be red and yellow in galactic boonies

NASA researchers claim we might find yellow or even red plants growing in other galaxies. But probably not blue. That would be ridiculous. In the latest issue of the Astrobiology journal (You don't subscribe?), a paper titled "Spectral Signatures of Photosynthesis II Coevolution with Other Stars And The Atmosphere on Extrasolar Worlds" suggests some planets may be largely populated with non-green plants. (You can read the article here but honestly, you should take our word on it. These guys aren't mucking around with the science razzmatazz. If you try to read it on the toilet, you'll start to leak from both ends.) The researchers' findings are based on how plants absorb and reflect different types of light. Let's step back a moment: Chlorophyll in plants takes light from the sun and converts it into energy through photosynthesis. Many of us were taught in school that plants are green because they absorb more blue and red light and less green. The reflection of green light makes plants appear that lovely color. But you might have noticed nervous sweat beads appearing on your science teacher's brow while this was all being explained. The dirty secret is - scientists weren't positive why. The paper has a theory: In our solar system, more red light reaches Earth than other colors. (A galactic red light district if you will, ho ho ho *nudge *nudge.) Meanwhile, blue light is the easiest to absorb. Plants make efficient use of red and blue, leaving poor green spectrum light not unlike a banjo player in an orchestra. On other planets, different colors might dominate the spectrum — leading to different color plants. Blue is still unlikely because it's just so darn easy to absorb. However, from a mathematical standpoint, a young reporter might argue a theory of red and yellow plants is superfluous. As far as the infinite expanses of the universe are concerned, a blanket statement of "______ exists" has a 100 per cent chance of being correct. So don't count blue plants out just yet. (Reporter's note: If it turns out space has a positive curvature and is not in fact infinite I'll buy you a Coke. It's still bloody huge though. And since the universe is therefore going to collapse upon itself maybe you should spend less time being so argumentative about these things.) ® Bootnote Nancy Kiang, a NASA biometeorologist who led the study, clarifies light absorption: Just thought I'd pick here and there: there is more sunlight ENERGY in the blue-green, but more sunlight PARTICLES in the red. The blue light isn't necessarily easier to absorb, but blue photons are more energetic and therefore easier to transmit along a sequence of pigments to a reaction center that does the biochemistry. Like the way energy gets from a power plant (blue) to your home, with losses along the way (you could have a gas tank right at home, too - red). By the time the blue light energy gets there, it's become downgraded to red. Molecular reasons favor the blue, and environmental resource availability favors the red. Thanks for trying to read the papers!
Austin Modine, 11 Apr 2007
Apache

Apache reignites Sun open source dispute

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has publicly slammed Sun Microsystems for dragging its feet over licensing it claims is unfair and discriminatory to open source, five years after the pair resolved similar differences.
Gavin Clarke, 11 Apr 2007